Substance Plugin : What does it offer that UE4 does not?


I have been browsing what Substance offers, and I have to say, I am pretty impressed by their toolkit.

However, if I understand correctly, the Substance plugin is all about importing substance files in the Unreal Engine, and allow to dynamically edit them inside the Editor. My concern is the following : are substance files just “uber-materials” in the sense that I can totally create a similar thing inside the editor by having very complex Materials/Material Functions?

There is one extremely nice thing it seems, you can just use substance files from their very impressive (but not free) database and import them inside UE4. I mean, the Tile material shown in the video is simply amazing. But :

  • Is it even possible to create such a material inside UE4?
  • If it is, is creating such a material in Substance Designer much shorter than doing it inside UE4?

Edit : Probably needs to be moved to “Content Creation”, sorry mods ><

Everything you can do within Substance Designer is possible to do within the Material Editor . But since substance designer is a versatile tool , and is used widely in CG , many people are used to working with it , and by using substance designer they fasten their workflow pipeline , but many other < like me > are used to material editor . so in the end it is just the matter of preference .

If you know your way around the material editor , it takes roughly the same time to create the material in it compared to substance designer, minus the import time .

An important difference is that Substance graphs produce bitmaps, and UE4 materials produce a shader. In other words, if you were to use UE4 materials naively, you will be doing a lot more processing each frame to get the same result.

The two shouldn’t really be compared though, because it’s apples and oranges. Substance Designer is more like a graph based photoshop/gimp, ie, it’s a procedural texture tool. You then use those textures in your UE4 materials to get your final output.

One big advantage SD has is automatic procedural textures. It’s so easy to add quick dirt and scratches, compared to UE, where you would have to import your wear-and-tear bitmaps manually. It also has the ability to bake maps from the mesh (Curvature, Normal, AO…), which UE obviously doesn’t have.

That’s been my (limited) experience with it anyway, those were the main things I noticed. I would say it’s definitely better than UE4’s material editor, but it’s another program to deal with.

No. Absolutely not - hd_ has it more or less right.

It seems people are still having a hard time grasping what Substance is actually for. Substance is not a material editing tool, it is used to generate textures procedurally, and those textures you would use within your materials. It is an additional tool for a different part of your pipeline and can neither replace the material editor, nor can the material editor replace it.

In our case, we use Substance to generate textures at run time, when the game begins. This means we can have thousands of variations of our environments without having to include tens of gigabytes of textures. We also use it for player created textures, as a few substance parameters sent over a network is a whole lot nicer than a set of high resolution textures…

Outside of Unreal (or any other engine), using it for things like scratches and such is an ideal example.

Thanks for this. That sounds like a brilliant use of the program. I’m evaluating both Substance and Quixel at the moment, and run time texture generation would certainly be a check mark in the Substance column.

I’m pretty sure you can even count particles that touch and modify all texture types realtime(normal, diffuse, spec, ect).

For example a tree that has a number of leaves that emits as falling leaf particles towords the ground, count the leaf the collided and add a leaf to the textures.

There is a video of someone doing this in udk. I’ll try and find it, it was soo amazingly beautiful.

I am a bit late for the party, for thanks for your answer everyone!